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  • Writer's pictureStéphanie

A complete Guide to navigating the EIC Transition program for groundbreaking technologies

The European Innovation Council (EIC) was introduced by the European Commission to support the commercialization of high-risk, high-impact technologies in the European Union. Launched in March 2021 under the Horizon Europe program, it emerged from a pilot phase that began in 2018, incorporating existing instruments under the Horizon 2020 program, such as the SME instrument and Future & Emerging Technology (FET) program. The EIC plays an essential role in helping researchers, startups, and SMEs to bring their innovations to the market by providing funding, networking opportunities, and business acceleration services.


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3 funding schemes adapted to your TRL: EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition and EIC Accelerator

The European Innovation Council (EIC) structures its funding and support into three principal schemes. The EIC Pathfinder encourages advanced research to establish the groundwork for breakthrough technologies. Complementing this, the EIC Transition focuses on validating these technologies and creating business models for their application. For more market-oriented goals, the EIC Accelerator supports companies, including SMEs, startups, and spin-offs, in commercializing and scaling their innovations. Two types of schemes are available within the EIC Pathfinder and Accelerator: "Open" calls for all technology fields, and targeted "Challenges" calls for strategically important areas. In this article, we will focus on the EIC Transition.


EIC Transition

The EIC Transition program is designed to bridge the gap between the experimental proof of principle in the lab and the commercial market. It focuses on advancing novel technologies through activities that include maturation, validation in relevant environments, prototyping, user testing, and developing a sustainable business model aimed at commercialization in high-potential markets. This program requires that proposed activities build upon results from previous EU-funded projects, employing user-centric methodologies to boost the innovation's commercial success potential.


Key aspects of EIC Transition projects include a balanced approach to technology and market/business development, incorporating technology development and validation to elevate the technology's maturity from TRL 3 or 4 to TRL 5 or 6, and ensuring the technology is demonstration-ready for its intended application. Activities must also focus on achieving market readiness, covering market research, value proposition, business planning, intellectual property protection, and regulatory considerations to prepare both the technology and business idea for investment.


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The program encourages participation from Technology Transfer Offices to facilitate the commercialization process. By the project's end, participants should be prepared for further stages such as applying for the EIC Accelerator, seeking investment, entering licensing or collaboration agreements, or exploring other market deployment routes. Proposals must outline the intended market pathway, include specific milestones, and provide concrete Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress. Open to all fields of science and technology, EIC Transition aims to enhance both the technological and market/business readiness of innovations from the outset, allowing for parallel and interactive development tracks.


Funding scheme

The call has an indicative budget of €94 million. Successful applicants will be awarded a RIA (Research and Innovation Action) grant covering all eligible costs for project execution. Proposals should aim for an EU contribution between €0.5 million and €2.5 million over a period of 1 to 3 years. The grant will fund 100% of eligible costs, provided as a lump sum determined during evaluation.

Funded projects may also:

  • Receive up to €50,000 in EIC Booster grants for activities that explore commercialization pathways or for portfolio activities.

  • Apply for the EIC Accelerator via the Fast Track scheme for additional support.

  • Besides financial support, projects benefit from business acceleration services and matchmaking events.


Eligibility

EIC Transition is open to single applicants (SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, RTOs, universities) or small consortia (between 2 and 5 eligible entities, SMEs, research entities, and technology transfer offices).

Proposals must originate from outcomes of an EU-funded project such as:

  • EIC Pathfinder projects (under Horizon 2020 and various FET initiatives).

  • European Research Council Proof of Concept projects funded by Horizon 2020 or Horizon Europe.

  • Research and Innovation Actions under Horizon 2020's Societal Challenges and Leadership in Industrial Technologies, and Horizon Europe pillar II.

  • European Defence Fund projects, provided they focus on civilian (including dual use) applications.

For ongoing projects, applications are acceptable if the project has been active for at least 12 months prior to the EIC Transition call cutoff date. For completed projects, applications can be made within 30 months post-completion.


Applicants do not need to have been involved in the initial project. However, previous project participants must confirm their IPR ownership or rights to commercialize the project result, and new applicants must include a commitment letter from the original project's result owners.


Timeline

The deadline for submitting your proposal in 2024 is on 18 September 2024 at 17h00 Brussels local time. Your proposal will be evaluated first by EIC expert evaluators. You will be informed about the result of this evaluation, including feedback on your proposal, indicatively within 9 weeks after the deadline. If your proposal successfully passes this first evaluation phase (see details below), you will be invited for an interview, which will be organised approximately between 12-14 weeks after the deadline. At the interview, you will be assessed by a panel of maximum 6 EIC Jury members. You will be informed about the result of the interview indicatively within 4 weeks from the start of the interviews.


If you are successful, you can expect your grant agreement to be signed within 6 months from the call deadline and you are expected to start your project within 2 months after signing the grant agreement.


Evaluation

  • Initial screening: Proposals are assessed on Excellence, Impact, and Quality & Efficiency of Implementation, with specific thresholds for each. The jury's decision is based on technological breakthrough potential, objectives' credibility, methodology, impacts (commercial and societal), investment readiness, team quality, and resource allocation. In cases of equal scores, particularly under the Excellence criterion, priority may be given to applications from women-led SMEs or consortia to aim for at least 30% representation. All candidates invited for interviews must have passed the evaluation thresholds.

  • Jury interview: Proposals can be represented by up to five individuals directly involved in the project. The EIC jury, comprising four to six members and possibly an EIC Programme Manager as an observer, evaluates the proposal based on its pitch and answers to questions related to award criteria.

  • Applicants receive an Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) after the first evaluation. Unsuccessful proposals meeting all criteria may receive a Seal of Excellence, and at submission, applicants agree to share data with alternative funding bodies if awarded this seal.


How can NETO Innovation support you?

As a result of our large network and project writing expertise, we can assist you with:

  • Finding the right partners in the participating countries. NETO Innovation has access to a wide range of partners, both private and public. Our team has the necessary skills and experience to match you with the best possible partners for your project. We can also ensure that the project is written in a way that meets your specific requirements and specifications.

  • Supporting you in writing the project application. Our team has experience in writing for a variety of partners, across different sectors and disciplines. We are familiar with the requirements of various funding bodies and can provide you advice on how to make your project application stand out from the rest. We also have experience in writing for a range of audiences, so you can be sure that your project application is written with clarity and precision.

  • Fill in the online application and submit the proposal. With NETO Innovation’s team you can be assured that your project application is clear, concise, convincing, and submitted on time.

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Interested in the EIC Transition call? Does writing grant applications seem overwhelming to you? Feel free to contact the NETO Innovation team to find out how we can support you and ease your innovation funding process. We can also provide you with more information about the possible budgets, selection criteria, and evaluation process. So, hurry up and contact our team here.


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